Making Strides

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

The baseball team is currently 1-5 in SUNYAC play after a 6-2 loss to the Red Dragons of Oneonta April 1 on the Hawks’ home turf.

The 9-13 Hawks answered Oneonta’s opening two runs at the top of the first with an RBI single by second-year shortstop Anthony DiNardo that sent fourth-year second baseman and left fielder Kenny Gentile home at the bottom of the inning. Gentile evened up the score at two in the bottom of the eighth, stealing second and third before stealing home. The Red Dragons countered, however, with four runs in the ninth.

“Their kid threw strikes, and you can’t take anything away from that,” Head Coach Matt Righter said of third-year pitcher Alex Mastrianni who held the mound until the ninth inning for the Red Dragons. “Our hitters can be a little more aggressive. As far as the game as a whole, we did some good things. We stole home, brought an outfielder in to play the infield and we made the play. To me it was more of a 3-2 game rather than what the score showed.”

The Hawks opened conference play with a three-game series sweep to SUNY Cortland, dropping the double header 13-3 and 4-0 March 21 before being blanked 5-0 the following day. Righter said the team’s performance was impacted by the travel from the previous week’s trip to Florida, but the bearing was worth the experience of playing talented teams during a time other teams were not competing.

But the magnitude of the shutout, and the players “taking games against Cortland personally,” provided an experience for growth, Righter said.

“I’m a believer in that we need to be prepared mentally and physically and treat any team like any other game,” he said. “As long as we execute, we can play with any team in the country, including Cortland.”

Mentality and physicality made the difference in the second game of the split doubleheader against The College of Brockport on March 29, fourth-year Captain Dave Lostaglio said. The Hawks dropped the first game in the series to the Brockport 8-1 before defeating the Golden Eagles 5-0.

In their win against Brockport, the Hawks got on the board in the second as third-year third baseman Mike Sparacino was brought home on an RBI single by second-year catcher Tyler Bell. Andrew DiNardo hit a two-run single to center field, and came around to score on a defensive miscue with two outs, before second-year first baseman Chris Baltera drove in Sparacino with a single through the right side to give the Hawks their 5-0 advantage.

After aiding in the win against the Golden Eagles, DiNardo ranked second on the team in batting average (.355) and first in runs scored (11), hits (22) and walks (10), earning him the SUNYAC Player of the Week.

“Andrew has been great,” Righter said. “We’ve moved him around. He has caught, he’s played shortstop, he’s played third base, he’ll do whatever it takes the help the team. I really appreciate that mentality. He works hard and gets a lot of hits. He deserves it.”

Lostaglio said the second Brockport game, the team came out with more intensity, energy and focus.

“We were more urgent than we were in the first game, as in the first game where we went flat after the first couple of innings,” he said.

Righter said as head coach, he would never place the blame of a loss on the players, and that everything the team needs to improve on “is something I can teach and improve on.”

Righter said the team is focused on smaller goals to reach the bigger goals at hand: making it to the SUNYAC tournament.

Thus far the team’s conference losses were a result of lack of the focus and energy it takes to be successful in the SUNYAC conference, Lostaglio said. But when the team possesses these qualities, he said, they are a difficult team to play and beat.

With a long list of series to still be played in the regular season against Oswego, Oneonta, Brockport, Plattsburgh and Fredonia, Righter said the team has a chance to win each remaining series.

The Hawks will take on Oswego this weekend at home, beginning April 5 with a doubleheader beginning at noon, followed by the final game of the series at noon on April 6.